Building of Dwelling Houses in EstoniaNot wanting to analyze the building of dwelling houses in Estonia inefficientlyand seemingly scientifically (where would I have got competent statistics from),I simply try to express the thoughts which are connected with that topicssomehow and have come into my mind. What kind of “scientific” analysis it couldbe or who should make it, if even the architectural critics seem not to managewith the simplest things. That reminds me an article in the EE some time agoabout a Finnish lady (naturally in Finland) completing or taking her doctor’sdegree. She was examining Finnish post-war modern house, it’s morphology, thestructure of the Finnish family, the connections between them and makingconclusions which extend to this day. Those observations about architecture weremuch more smarter than those that the most of self-confident architects could do.
Unfortunately it has to be confessed that I don’t remember such a research workor sentiments in Estonian science, but no doubt, they could be necessary. Thetypology of the houses used by most of the architects goes back to the livingmodel of the middle class at the end of the 19th century. That model wasidealized and carried on through a hundred of years up to the end of thiscentury. No doubt that our living style is changing repeating banalities:paradigm changes as well as the composition and make-up of the family. Therewas a news in a newspaper about Estonia which declared that 50 % of the childrenare illegitimate (it is possible, of course, that some parents live togetherwithout getting married officially) and 12,5 % of the born children know nothingabout their fathers. The living with grandparents is not so popular any more.
(As to the models of living it is worth of observing what has happened in North-America though some europercentage followers don’t accept that it may happenthat we will be on the same development level soon. In that country the grown-upchildren don’t want to live with their fathers and mothers, at leaststatistically). Even such an every day activity as cooking is changingessentially. An apartment or house is not a small production unit with itsstorages, kitchen and dining room any more. The kitchen can be as presentable asthe dining room, also the furniture and the quality of the activities, they canbecome more melted. There are some theorists who admit that not only eating butwashing procedures as well will leave the house to so-called town-social level.
In the house there will be only a bed, a computer for communication and toilet.
It won’t happen so soon, but one has to keep an eye on that branch ofdevelopment. Talking into account the above mentioned statements it seems ratherlogical that the present day “style of living” which is monofunctionally dividedinto the units, should be replaced by a multifunctional and more universal room.
The architects can make their conclusions if they want to. The society is comingmore and more complicated, more individual-centered / individualized and thatought to be reflected in the typological and functional development of the house/ apartment. The situation in Estonia is a bit curious just now perhaps evenridiculous. On the one hand we have been left a huge amount of apartments living units, on the other hand these don’t satisfy the real needs of thesociety any more. The problem doesn’t lie in the apartment or house, but in thatcomplete, and if you wish, harmonious world where these houses are situated. Andthat is why it is very difficult to prevent Lasnamae from turning to a ghetto.
The houses can be heated outside and apartments decorated inside, but it givessatisfaction for a short time only. The single coquettish villages built in theold districts between the houses look strange. The dissonance doesn’t existbetween the houses themselves but between the styles of living. The groups of 5- 10 houses in the picturesque landscape at the seaside also can’t create thecomplete society if they are situated next to the fishery and sawmills. Thereare some districts in Estonia where the small houses with more completetreatment have come into being. The suburb romantic idyll is ruling there, alsomentally as the motto of the area is to be similar and alike, with no anydifferences from the thoughts of dear neighbors. Those so-called new-rich whohave enough money to build need the house as the symbol of status and theyactually don’t value the environment.
I would like to pay attention to the matter that has annoyed me for some time. Ican’t understand these critics who treat the houses on the steep banks ofTabasalu with irony, calling them bad PM and admitting that the functionalitywith stylistics originating from the 20ies is not so much PM, and a better one.
Of course, that is the question of taste. But if we don’t think the stylisticsto be the most important and do not throw away inevitably everything “American”;then to be honest, those houses purely morphologically are composed verynicely if compared with sisters built somewhere else. The main trouble in thatarea results in so-called planning, or if you wish town building.
Unfortunately it seems that it is not yet the right time to discuss thatcomplicating matter in Estonia. Mainly the highway engineers are handling theseproblems and town building as the complex of cultural decisions hasn’t beendiscussed. Actually there is a disagreement between the frequency and characterof the houses that is where to look for main mistakes. But behind that are thedesires of the customers, difficulties in getting the ownership of land,stereotype thinking of the planning architect our cultural backgroundaltogether. If to think about the future, keeping an eye on the same culturalbackground, I have to say that the Estonians, if to express decently, are nottoo keen to fight the challenge of age (by the way, an excellent opportunity forthe apologists of modernism) and taking use of that characteristics at leastyounger architects could accept the possibilities offered by present time.
Certainly not everybody likes these possibilities and only a few real estateagents will be interested, but according to my own experience there are some ofthem, in Estonia too.
It is also important that looking at the things otherwise and spreading thatvision we can reach the situation where the words “cheap” and “ecological” havegreat value. And considering our relatively poverty it is not a bad result atall.